The best books about animals and us

Who am I?

I'm mainly known as an author of fiction for young readers, but animal awareness is an important part of my life and I decided to write about it.  I’ve been vegetarian for many years, and vegan for the last four: I decided long ago that no animal was going to die so that I could eat it. From early childhood, I loved animal stories, and as I grew older it baffled me that we care for our pets while thinking of other creatures as food. I spend a lot of my time campaigning for animals – for better treatment of farm animals, against bloodsports like fox-hunting and shooting, and for better awareness of the natural world and how we must look after it. 


I wrote...

This Book Is Cruelty Free: Animals and Us

By Linda Newbery,

Book cover of This Book Is Cruelty Free: Animals and Us

What is my book about?

My book is a guide to compassionate living. Every day of our lives we make choices – about what to eat, wear, use, waste, and throw away – and these choices affect animals and the environment in all sorts of ways. How can we choose better, and live more kindly? I look at food, fashion, pets, zoos, how to engage with nature, and much more, including how to campaign for a better world for animals. I hope this book will help you to feel confident with your decisions, to make positive changes, and maybe influence others too.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Black Beauty

Linda Newbery Why did I love this book?

This is one of the earliest books I remember reading as a child – first in an abridged version (I still remember the illustrations) and then the full text when I was older. It’s an unforgettable classic story inspired by Anna Sewell’s compassion for horses and her despair at the cruelties inflicted on them in Victorian London. We follow Black Beauty from his birth to his old age, as he belongs to various owners and is treated kindly or neglectfully depending on their character and circumstances. Along the way we get to know other horses too, especially proud Ginger and the friendly pony Merrylegs. Poor Ginger’s fate still makes me cry.

By Anna Sewell, Kristen Guest (editor),

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Black Beauty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Continuously in print and translated into multiple languages since it was first published, Anna Sewell's Black Beauty is a classic work of children's literature and an important text in the fields of Victorian studies and animal studies. Writing to ""induce kindness, sympathy and an understanding treatment"", Sewell realistically documents the working conditions of Black Beauty, who moves down the social scale from a rural carriage horse to a delivery horse in London. Sewell makes visible and tangible the experience of animals who were often treated as if they were machines. Though she died shortly after it was published, Sewell's book…


Book cover of A Street Dog Named Pup

Linda Newbery Why did I love this book?

Many people, including me, are describing this as a modern classic, a Black Beauty for dogs, and for our age. When he’s cruelly dumped on a London street and left to fend for himself, Pup, a German Shepherd cross, teams up with other homeless dogs and learns survival skills, confronting many dangers. Through the various dogs in this group and their stories, Gill Lewis raises various issues about dog-owning and breeding: abandonment, puppy-farming, and the deliberate selective breeding of flat-faced dogs that leads to breathing problems. Pup even gets reluctantly involved in the horrors of organised dog-fighting. It’s practically guaranteed to keep you hooked.  

By Gill Lewis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Street Dog Named Pup as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Pup and his boy are inseparable. But both their worlds change forever when Pup is cruelly taken away and abandoned in Dead Dog Alley.
With nowhere else to turn, Pup joins a pack of misfit Street Dogs, who help him learn to fight for survival on the streets.
Pup holds on to the hope of one day being reunited with his boy. But as that hope shrinks with every passing day, Pup begins to wonder if their bond is irreversibly broken...
A thrilling and heart-warming novel by award-winning author Gill Lewis, celebrating the unique bond between humans and animals, and…


Book cover of The Song that Sings Us

Linda Newbery Why did I love this book?

This is an epic adventure story with a strong environmental theme, set in an alternative world. A harsh government, the Automators, trains citizens to think of the whole natural world – animals, plants, everything – as theirs to use and exploit. Set against them is a group of specially gifted people, the Listeners, who can tune in to animal minds and share their thoughts. But this ability is a dangerous one, as anyone found to be a Listener can be imprisoned and brainwashed. Harlon, Ash, Zeno, and their mother are part of a resistance group called Green Thorn, which tunes into an unseen network that connects all living things. This is an exciting story that’s also moving and poetic – and the story will continue!

By Nicola Davies,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Song that Sings Us as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When animals talk, it's time humans listened: Harlon has been raised to protect her younger siblings, twins Ash and Xeno, and their outlawed power of communicating with animals. But when the sinister Automators attack their mountain home they must flee for their lives. Xeno is kidnapped and Harlon and Ash are separated. In a thrilling and dangerous adventure they must all journey alone through the ice fields, forests and oceans of Rumyc to try to rescue each other and fulfil a mysterious promise about a lost island made to their mother. A stunning environmental epic with cover and chapter illustrations…


Book cover of Bambi: A Life in the Woods

Linda Newbery Why did I love this book?

If you know the Disney film rather than Felix Salten’s novel, you may be surprised by this, the original story – the film is far better-known. It encourages us to empathise with animals and to see humans from their point of view – and most humans don’t come out of it well, shooting and maiming wild animals for sport, spreading terror throughout the forest in which Bambi, the deer, is born.  After the loss of his mother and another tragic episode in which his cousin, Gobi, is betrayed, Bambi learns to survive, but also to fear humankind. This is another book I read as a child and recently revisited – finding it just as moving and sometimes harrowing as I did at the age of ten.

By Felix Salten, Richard Cowdrey (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Bambi as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

Immerse yourself in a young deer's world in this resplendent, collectible edition of the richly imagined and vividly illustrated masterpiece that inspired the beloved Disney film.

Bambi lives in a thicket in the forest. From his kind and caring mother, to all the friends he makes among the forest's inhabitants, to his twin cousins Faline and Gobo, he is surrounded by animals who wish him well. But there are dangers within and surrounding the forest, and all too soon they will make themselves known.

A beautifully written and critically acclaimed classic that has been translated into more than twenty languages…


Book cover of Diary of a Young Naturalist

Linda Newbery Why did I love this book?

Dara McAnulty is a young naturalist from Northern Ireland. He is autistic and writes about how he was badly bullied at school because of that. He has always found joy and comfort in the natural world, and this is a journal of his fifteenth year, recording outings to woodlands, coasts, and mountains. He writes so vividly, not only about the birds and other creatures he sees but also about the exhilaration of being in wild places. This was his first book, and I’m sure there will be many more from this gifted young writer.

By Dara McAnulty,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Diary of a Young Naturalist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF BOOK OF THE YEAR, NARRATIVE NON-FICTION BRITISH BOOK AWARDS 2021

Rediscover the natural world with the multi-award winning phenomenon and youngest ever major literary prize winner in UK history.

'Miraculous memoir . . . profoundly moving' Observer

'Dara is an extraordinary voice and vision: brave, poetic, ethical, lyrical' Robert Macfarlane

'It's a diary but essentially timeless . . . It's really, really special' Chris Packham

ALSO WINNER OF: THE WAINWRIGHT PRIZE FOR NATURE WRITING 2020, AN POST IRISH BOOK AWARD FOR NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR 2020, BOOKS ARE MY BAG READERS AWARDS FOR NON-FICTION 2020; SHORTLISTED FOR: WATERSTONES…


You might also like...

The Child Riddler

By Angela Greenman,

Book cover of The Child Riddler

Angela Greenman Author Of The Child Riddler

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Communications expert International traveler Human relations champion Focused

Angela's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Zoe Lorel, an elite operative in an international spy agency, is sent to abduct a nine-year-old girl. The girl is the only one who knows the riddle that holds the code to unleash the most lethal weapon on earth—the first ever “invisibility” nano weapon, a cloaking spider bot. But when enemies reveal the invisibility weapon’s existence to underground arms dealers, every government and terrorist organization in the world wants to find that little girl.

Zoe races to save not only the child she has grown to care about but also herself. Her agency-prescribed pills—the ones that transform her into the icy killer she must become to survive—are beginning to threaten her engagement to the one person who brings her happiness.

The Child Riddler

By Angela Greenman,

What is this book about?

Despite the angry scars she carries from her childhood training, Zoe Lorel has reached a good place in her life. She has her dream job as an elite operative in an international spy agency and she’s found her one true love. Her world is mostly perfect—until she is sent to abduct a nine-year-old girl.

The girl is the only one who knows the riddle that holds the code to unleash the most lethal weapon on earth—the first ever “invisibility” nanoweapon, a cloaking spider bot. But Zoe’s agency isn’t the only one after the child. And when enemies reveal the invisibility…


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